An Academic’s 10 Tips on Scholarly Nonfiction

Duke political scientist Michael Munger meets his daily word quota with “10 Tips to Write Less Badly.”

Likely you’ve heard them all before–writerly common sense.

I can’t decide if I agree with him about input/output goals.  He thinks you should set a page/word count: today I will produce three pages; not, today I will spend three hours writing.  If you’re someone who gestates essays in your brain before committing pen to paper, however, a time count may be more useful.  It’s easy to say, I’m the kind of writer who works things out in my head so I can go to the grocery store and think about psychometrics as I choose cereal.  But if you make a time commitment to sitting in front of a pad or a computer, then even if you don’t write much down, you’ve eliminated the distractions to the mental work.

As Ernest Hemingway, W. Somerset Maugham, E.L. Konigsburg, or Mary Heaton Vorse said in one form or another, “Writing requires applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

(Write something quotable, and lots of people will want to claim it as their own.)

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